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Pregnant amputee does maternity photoshoot to empower women with disabilities

‘The longing for seeing disability in media is entangled in my own self-acceptance’

Sabrina Barr
Wednesday 09 May 2018 10:10 BST
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Christa Couture
Christa Couture

For some pregnant women, doing a maternity photoshoot is a fantastic way to commemorate the beautiful, turbulent and emotional journey that is pregnancy.

While Christa Couture had originally been slightly cynical about the idea of doing a clichéd photoshoot, she couldn’t help but be drawn to the notion of capturing her body during the later stages of pregnancy.

As an amputee, Ms Couture hadn’t ever seen a maternity photoshoot that she felt reflected bodies with visible disabilities.

Christa Couture

That’s why she decided to create her own, empowering herself and other women with disabilities in the process.

“I struggled to imagine my own maternity photos when I couldn’t find any examples of them with a body like mine,” she wrote for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

“We all know the power of representation - how important it is to see ourselves in order to aspire.

Christa Couture

“The longing for seeing disability in media is entangled in my own self-acceptance.”

Ms Couture enlisted the talents of photographer Jen Squires for the photoshoot, having been overawed by Ms Squires' “Vitiligo” self-portrait series.

Ms Squires took a variety of photos of Ms Couture, some that featured her with her floral prosthetic leg attached and some in which she’d taken it off.

Christa Couture

At the age of 13, Ms Couture had to have her left leg amputated after being diagnosed with bone cancer.

While she was initially apprehensive about how the photos would appear, all of her worries quickly melted away the minute she caught sight of them on Ms Squires’ laptop.

"I was nervous because I'd never ever done any photos with my prosthesis off and while I'm very used to my prosthesis being a focal point that gets a lot of positive attention, I wasn't sure my amputated limb would be received the same way," Ms Couture told The Independent.

"But as soon as I saw the previews pop up as Jen started taking pictures, I relaxed.

Christa Couture

"She's such a wonderful photographer and also a very warm person - I knew she would capture what I was going for - to show disability as beautiful and as part of something ordinary."

Ms Couture hopes that her maternity photoshoot will inspire other pregnant women with disabilities to embrace and celebrate their bodies.

"I don't think we see enough disabled bodies doing everyday things," she said. "We see elite athletes like Paralympians, or we see Hollywood cyborgs or saccharine inspirational stuff. But the stuff of everyday life, like being a parent, is hard to find.

"In that lack of representation, people with disabilities are constantly told they can't do things. I want my photos to be part of disabled bodies being normalised."

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